One of the great things you can do with an effectiveness database of over 20,000 ads is a top-down view of a category. You can look at the category codes, get an idea of how they might be developing and interrogate what’s driving creative success.

Hair products are a case in point. We all have an idea of what a haircare ad looks like – lots of glossy locks swinging around, with cuts to voiceover explaining the science behind the product. It’s a balance of reassurance and aspiration that's defined the category for years.

You still see plenty of those ads, of course, but they don’t score too well.

This fact-packed ad for Garnier’s Coco Sleek is typical – a soft voiceover delivering a ton of product detail. It scored 2.6 stars – a low predicted-growth result but well in line with category standards.

But what’s interesting is the ads that do a bit better and push into 3-Star territory.

This ad for L’Oreal Paris’ new Colorista hair make-up is the best haircare ad so far this year in the UK – a 3.9-Star commercial, indicating good share growth potential. For a launch ad, that’s a strong result. The ad is still very product centric, but the difference in style is obvious – brash, bold, and joyful rather than the rather cautious reliance on science.

Of course that’s a category difference – but it’s also a shift within category, as the palette of hair colour products becomes ever wilder and the assumption is that this is a temporary fix, not a medium- or long-term style change.

And the more upbeat style is one other products in the category can adopt. Here’s a recent ad for Church & Dwight’s Batiste dry shampoo brand.

This is a shampoo ad which feels like a hair colour one – considerably more exciting. The code switching pays off with viewers – Batiste’s ad broke into 3-Star territory.

Not all of these brash, fast-cut ads land. This, from Schwarzkopf Colour, swaps the standard voiceover for a hip-hop soundtrack and dips to 2.3- Star score – so it’s a difficult balance to get right.

Still, it could be worse. You could be selling men’s shampoo.

(1.3 Stars, if you’re asking.)

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